Smallscreen Scream. Again.

scream tv series season 2SCREAM – THE TV SERIES (SEASON 2)

3 Stars  2016/540m

“Trust nothing.”

Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Amadeus Serafini, Tracy Middendorf, Kiana Ledé, Santiago Segura, Anthony Ruivivar, Sean Grandillo, Bryan Batt, Austin Highsmith, Bobby Campo, Tom Maden.

Body Count: 8


Unlike a film sequel, writing up notes to the sophomore season of a TV show pivoting on its mystery means that unavoidable spoilers must follow…

Some months after Piper Shaw revealed herself to be the Lakewood Slasher and was killed by the combined efforts of Emma Duval and Audrey Jensen, the former returns to town after mucho therapy in an episode titled I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Of course, there’s the lingering question of who Piper’s accomplice was? We saw Audrey burning letters from her, Noah is still hellbent on finding out who it is, and fascination with The Lakewood Six (them plus Brooke, Jake, and Kieran) ignites as school begins again, with a handful of new students thrust into the mix to be killed or killer.

Unlike Season 1, rather than beginning with a high profile kill (save for a film-in-a-film gag) we have to wait to the end of the episode before the killer strikes, cutting out one of the survivors permanently (it was Jake – yay!!) and tormenting Audrey with the usual mix of calls, notes, and cryptic clues.

scream tv series

Meanwhile, new teacher Miss Lang expresses an interest in Emma; Keiran’s creepy cousin Eli moves to town, and the new sheriff and his intense son, Stavo, are also settling in. Noah is romantically enchanted by smart girl Zoe, much to Audrey’s annoyance, as she runs around trying to stop herself being exposed.

Jake’s disappearance is neatly covered up by the killer and a few episodes tick by with no murders, endangering the show of sinking into a quicksand of boredom. Efforts are made to try and keep things thrilling, but a stupid scene where Emma – walking home alone at night after all she’s been through! – is accosted by a strange car that cruises after her in a creepy slow fashion, only to turn out to be her Dad watching over her. Then there’s her terminally drippy sub-Dawson’s Creek relationship with Keiran, so devoid of passion it makes Twilight look like Deep Throat.

scream tv series brooke

Eventually, Jake’s murder becomes public knowledge and things shunt into gear. Audrey, unable to spin so many plates any longer, confesses to Noah that she brought Piper to Lakewood as part of her documentary of Brandon James (who conveniently has a brother now), and knew she was Emma’s half-sister. This gets back to Emma eventually, they fall out, suspicion everywhere – but the murders continue.

Season 2 learns lessons from the lagging moments of the first year, culminating in some pretty tense final episodes: Noah is buried alive and the girls, now working as two sides of the final girl conundrum (the pretty popular type and the brooding outsider), do their best to save him – though it becomes more of a Crystal Maze puzzle as the killer leaves clues galore to be solved, punishing them both for killing Piper.

scream tv series

Come the end, with the Lakewood Six severely depleted, the young actors get the chance to flex their craft a little now all of them have been touched by death: Audrey’s girlfriend, Emma’s boyfriend, two girlfriends for Noah!, Brooke’s father…

The killer, when revealed, is the logical choice, with the others walking around with Red Herring stamped on their foreheads, and harks back to the original film in a nostalgic way, as it nears it’s twentieth anniversary.

A pending Halloween double-bill special may be the final world on Smallscreen Scream, as there’s little direction to go in from here on – though the Brandon James mystery is wheeled out for more is-it-isn’t-it hysteria, and new secrets are being dreamt up at every turn, but perhaps it’s time for Lakewood to have some peace and move the action somewhere else?

scream tv series

Marginally better than the first season, thanks in large part to upscaled production unities, more confident performances from the cast, and getting shot of Jake nice n’ early. And unlike its nearest competitor, the DOA Scream Queens, at least the main cast aren’t immune to being trimmed where necessary. Take note, Ryan Murphy, a slasher opus requires some actual slashing.

…Something beginning with overrated

my little eye dvd

MY LITTLE EYE

2 Stars  2002/18/92m

“Fear is not knowing. Terror is finding out.”

Director: Marc Evans / Writers: David Hilton & James Watkins / Cast: Laura Regan, Sean C.W. Johnson, Kris Lemche, Jennifer Sky, Stephen O’Reilly, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell.

Body Count: 4


Trailers for My Little Eye looked awesome back in the early 00s, and I went to see it around the same time that the similarly-themed Halloween: Resurrection floated to the surface.

Kind of an awkward marriage between parts of The Blair Witch Project and Big Brother - then at the peak of its popularity – five young hopefuls are plonked in a house in the middle of nowhere (a nowhere covered by an inescapable blanket of snow) for six months with the promise of a million dollars each if none of them leave before it’s over.

As they near the end of their stay, the shady producers begin sending stranger and stranger supplies to the house, such as bricks, a gun, a hammer. that prompt the residents to try and delve deeper into the agenda, amped up when a hiker happens by and claims he’s never heard of the show.

They discover they are guinea pigs to a secret circle of sadistic millionaires who want to see live murders and one of them turns out to be a well-placed psycho who’s happy to start doing the rest of them in until whiney heroine Emma takes him on.

my little eye 2002

In synch with hordes of other it’s-real-no-it’s-not slashers including Kolobos and Voyeur.com, a large spoonful of the film is presented via obscure camera angles as the slow build keeps the audience waiting for that mind-blowing revelation… There are a couple of suitably eerie moments on route, but instead of a huge twist, things just peter out with an annoying and bleak twist ending that succeeds only in cementing the hour-long build up as a waste of time.

Biggest mystery: If the whole thing was just an elaborate trap, why wait six months before killing everyone on the same day?

Blurbs-of-interest: Kris Lemche was in Final Destination 3; Nick Mennell was in the Friday the 13th reboot; apparently Bradley Cooper did a few films nobody ever heard of.

Never have I ever…

evertoEVERTO

1 Stars  2016/115m

“It comes with no warning. It needs no reason.”

Director/Writer: Antione McKnight / Writer: Jackie Miller / Cast: Alessandra Spoletini, Allison Schuette, Jonathan Schneider, Dave Madden, Thomas Ouimette, Adam Yoder, Erica Matthews, Sean Demma, Michael Schneider.

Body Count: 6


What a lot of people would think is an upside to writing a blog like this – being asked to review upcoming slasher films and sent a screener – is often a poison chalice… As high-end, well made films don’t often require the assistance of down-and-out, end-of-the-earth horror geek sites, it usually ends up with me thinking how I can break it to the filmmakers that I really didn’t like their movie.

As was the case with Everto, a gruelling almost two-hour endurance test of a project, that features a teen girl tormented by a weird-faced guy with a blade, who can seemingly take on the form of other people and/or do pitch perfect voice imitations, beckoning poor fools into a room where they’ll most certainly be sliced up.

Girl finds her friend dead one night and ends up locked in the house with the body and the killer, who leaves her be. Cops interfere, she and her boyfriend investigate and there’s something about a 40-year-old murder and the fingerprints being the same, blah blah blah.

A film with a body count of six should run about 85 minutes, not 115. It also shouldn’t take 35 minutes for the first horror-related thing to happen. Do we need to listen to people talk about pancakes for seven minutes?

everto1a

While there’s an okay score and the remnants of decent cinematography, it’s drowned and stomped facedown into a puddle of crap by tinny sound and horrifically bad acting: One of the guys seems to be reading from off-screen prompts, talking about his murdered sister with all the emotional resonance of somebody pissed that they got a parking ticket.

It’s a shame, because I’d love to be able to tell someone they’re really onto something good. Everto, unless drastically re-cut, is just too dull and random to cut it.

Eye of the Beheld

you are not alone 2015

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

2 Stars  2014/93m

“He’s been watching you…”

Director/Writer: Derek Mungor / Writer: Chris O’Brien / Cast: Krista Dzialoszynski, David O’Brien, Nikki Pierce, Keenan Camp, Mary Mikva, Eric Wood.

Body Count: 3?


This film would be awesome if there’d been a scene of somebody waking up in the dark, hearing the titular Michael Jackson song playing in another room. Seriously, how creepy would that be?

Given that early slasher films keyed heavily on voyeurism, with many-a-POV shot as mystery killers floated down high school corridors, up staircases in suburban houses, and around cabins at summer camps, it’s somewhat surprising it’s taken this long for somebody to flip-reverse it to the main character’s eye-view of things.

Of course, final girls were attributed the odd POV shot to establish them as being able to ‘see’, unlike their doomed friends, but a whole movie shout exclusively through her eyes? New turf. And the Maniac remake doesn’t count.

Disappointingly, You Are Not Alone functions as a bare-bones horror film at most, taking almost an hour before anything remotely resembling terror begins: We don’t follow our heroine Natalie, we are her as she returns home from school in New York to the small town of Walnut, IL, for July 4th celebrations.

We get collected by her brother from the airport, listen to his trivial dialogue, go see her grandma, walk around, go to some fireworks, go to a party, go home a bit drunk. If any of these ventures meant anything later, they’d be tolerable, but none of the people she goes to see appear again to die, help, laugh, whatever.

Then we see a man loitering outside the house and YANA finally gets a little bit scary. Alone in the house, Natalie/we call her brother, and yell at the guy to bugger off, but he comes back and, in the film’s scariest moment, runs at the door – at us.

Natalie/we hide, escape, run to a house across the street after being attacked and witness the homeowner slain before the killer torments her/us until another escape followed by lots and lots of walking and running around empty buildings.

you are not alone 2014

I just couldn’t get along with You Are Not Alone. While the concept is interesting, there’s just not enough to suspend it for long enough. As a slasher opus, there’s only one definite demise. As an indie film, while it looks the part and the performances come off as natural and realistic, leading actress Krista Dzialoszynski’s face never appears, not even in a reflection, distancing the audiences relationship with ‘ourselves’.

She makes bad decisions on ‘our’ behalf, so much so it was almost a case of trying to steer the camera left when she went right, walks away from people trying to help her towards darker, less-inhabited locations, and still the mask-less, pedestrian killer follows.

A balls-to-the-wall slasher experience or a 25-minute duration might have made this more interesting. With several friends introduced, only for them to vanish from the film, it seems an opportunity for the filmmakers to really put ‘us’ through hell is completely missed. As a character supposed to represent us, little is done to fill Natalie out – she’s a blank canvas, possibly in the hope that a cross-section of viewers will identify more easily, but ultimately she has little to do and is far more of a fleeing victim than a final girl.

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